The LLG Governance Conference 2018 - Great Success

Publish date: 10/10/2018

The LLG Governance Conference 2018 held in Gateshead this year was a phenomenal showcase of legal expertise and pragmatic governance. Opened by our President, Suki Binjal, click here to read the President's Speech including coverage of the local authority landscape and LLG's finger on the pulse. Pictures also included!

Suki Binjal sets out the current local authority landscape and challenges for Lawyers in Local Government:-

"Each year, local authorities have seen ever increasing challenges to the services provided to their local communities together with sweeping financial constraints upon budgets. The circumstance of Northamptonshire illustrates this starkly. Movement to strip back services to the provision of cre functions are rippling across the regions and gaining momentum. Ascertaining services and functions which must be provided will inevitably require detailed input from local government lawyers to minimise the risk of challenge. Further, grey areas undoubtedly exist. The importance for local government lawyer involvement at an early stage of any service reduction cannot, in consequence, be understated.

At a time of crisis, risk adverse behaviour can noticeably increase; but a culture of strong resilience can provide an adaptive response. Whilst understanding the funding pressures local authorities are under and the importance of keeping a balanced budget, there are serious concerns about the black and white approach of solely focusing on statutory responsibilities. Taking such a risk averse step undermines years of best practice in developing services and policies for the good of local communities. Local authorities could run the gauntlet of litigation claims, negligence and judicial reviews; the cost of which would potentially wipe out any cost savings. Good Local Government is far more than the sum of its statutory responsibilities.

Developing strong resilience is key to the sustainability of local authorities. Resilience is rooted in good governance. Central government should be the epitome of good governance, but so often it's not. Local government has a far more accountable, transparent and effective process for determining policy and making decisions. Whilst there is a perception that the private sector is in some way preferable to the public provision of services, the Carilion collapse demonstrates that theory should not be the driving factor. Strengthening and retaining services could better be achieved by blending both public and private sector provision whilst placing communities at the centre of service delivery.

When we talk about resilience, we are really talking about the ability to respond to immediate crisis; identify and learn from mistakes; be adaptive; work as a team and see the 'bigger picture'. When placed in that context, local authority lawyers have been eloquently demonstrating resilience for many years, finding solutions and building futures for the good of local communities. We are well placed to ensure not just legal compliance, but good governance and innovation across the spectrum of local authority service provision".

Suki Binjal

LLG President 2018